Worst-Case Wednesday: How to Make Menorah Candles From Crayons

Posted by Eric Smith

Photo via Flickr

With all the running around for the holidays, sometimes you can forget the most important things. Sometimes it’s a kid, other times, it’s an important part of your holiday tradition.

If Hanukkah arrives and you are without a menorah or candles, you will have to make your own. So here’s an excerpt from the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays by David Borgenicht and Joshua Piven, to teach you how to make menorah candles out of crayons.

Yes, crayons.

How to Make Menorah Candles from Crayons

You will need 4 cups distilled water; 8 tablespoons boric acid (borax); 4 tablespoons salt, 26 feet of string, twine, or cotton yarn; cardboard; an empty coffee can; a saucepan larger than the coffee can; heavy duty foil; 44 steel washers; and 137 crayons.

1. Prepare a mordanting solution for the wick. Mix the distilled water, boric acid (borax), and salt in the large saucepan. The mordanting solution will minimize smoke and ash. Bring the solution to a boil.

2. Soak the string in the mordanting solution. Submerge the string, twine, or cotton yarn in the boiling solution, remove from the heat, and let steep for four to eight hours.

3. Remove the string and hang to dry overnight. Hang the string on the back of a folding chair, on a doorknob, or from a curtain rod. Ensure that loops of the string do not touch one another. Discard the mordanting solution and rinse the saucepan.

4. When the string is completely dry, cut 22 strands, each 14 inches long. Each strand will make a wick for two six inch candles at a time. Weight both ends of each length by tying on steel washers. These will keep the wick straight as the candle dries.

5. Prepare the wicks for dipping. Drape each string piece over a 2 by 2 inch piece of cardboard folded in half, leaving equal lengths on either side. Cut slashes on opposite sides of the cardboard and lodge the wick into the slashes. Set aside.

6. Place the coffee can in the saucepan on the stovetop. Fill the saucepan around the can with three to four inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, adding more water as necessary to keep the level constant.

7. Melt five crayons in the coffee can. Remove all paper from the crayons before melting them. This wax will only be used to coat the wick, not to make the candles.

8. Dip two wicks. Leave the wicks in the melted crayons until they are coated; 30 seconds is sufficient. Remove the can and hang to dry.

9. Once dry, cut the string. Remove the cardboard and washers and cut the string so that you have two prepared wicks, each about seven inches long.

10. Stack three additional crayons around each wick. Remove the paper from the crayons first. This arrangement will form your candle. Allow a few extra inches of wick to protrude at each end.

11. Wrap the bundle tightly in several layers of heavy- duty aluminum foil. A few layers will be necessary to prevent leaking.

12. Repeat steps 10 and 11 until 44 candles are prepared.

13. Heat. Place the foil wrapped bundles on a baking sheet and put in a preheated 200° F oven for 20 minutes to fuse them together.

14. Shape. When the bundles are warm and pliable to the touch, roll until the candles are the proper diameter to fit your menorah.

15. Remove the foil.

16. Set the candles. Place them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool.

Be aware—crayon based candles are very smoky, drippy, and tend not to burn evenly. Watch them carefully when lit.

Eric Smith


ERIC SMITH is the cofounder of Geekadelphia, a popular blog covering all-that-is-geek in the City of Brotherly Love, as well as the Philadelphia Geek Awards, an annual awards show held at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He’s written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, and Philly.com